October 20, 2021
Bettie Coplan is a Researcher, Teacher, and Practicing PA
April 15, 2019
By Sarah Blugis
Bettie Coplan, MPAS, PA-C, is the recipient of this year’s Publishing Award as the lead author of the paper, “Burnout, job satisfaction, and stress levels of PAs,” published in the Journal of the American Academy of PAs (JAAPA).
The Publishing Award is granted to a PA who published, during the prior calendar year, a new clinical or research article expressing original and/or scientifically rigorous ideas substantiated by best practices and contributing to the advancement of the PA profession. Coplan’s research paper aimed to assess burnout, job satisfaction, and stress, and gain insight into the work lives of male and female PAs.
“I was studying the relationship between healthcare workers’ job satisfaction and patient care in a class I was taking when my colleague and co-author, Alison Essary, approached me about working with AAPA to study work-life issues among PAs,” Coplan says. “The project provided a chance to work with AAPA researchers Noel Smith, MS, and Tim McCall, PhD, and learn more about PAs specifically, so I was happy to work on it.”
Through their research, Coplan and her co-authors found that “in general, PAs experience modest levels of burnout but are happy at work.” Additionally, more than half say that a significant contributor to stress is spending too many hours at work. And, more female PAs than male PAs have quit a job due to stress.
The authors note that this study should act as a basis for further research – especially as the healthcare community works to reduce burnout through developing interventions that streamline workflows, strengthening teamwork, and promoting flexibility and work-life balance. And for PAs, Coplan says, they’re “all about team.”
“We are team players that deliver safe and effective patient care, and we’re flexible enough to be in the places where care is needed,” she says.
Coplan is a clinical associate professor in the PA program at Northern Arizona University in Phoenix. She’s also an adjunct faculty member in the College of Health Solutions at Arizona State University, also in Phoenix. In these roles, she is afforded time to work on research, teach, and see patients a few days each month. And while she finds her research rewarding, Coplan also says that a large part of what has made her PA career great is her students.
“Seeing them through the difficulties of PA school and watching them mature into competent and successful PAs is pretty great,” Coplan says.